Lenten Wanderings – Pt 5: Homecoming

What a whirlwind these past 6 weeks have been.

So much travel — by train, by plane, by bus.

So many new countries.

So many hours pouring through possible hotels/guesthouses/rental apartments. (SO MANY!)

So many calls, texts, emails with leadership to determine the next moves.

Suffice to say, it’s been a lot.

There have been loads of good times, as well! We’ve enjoyed so many cups of coffee! Eaten many delicious pastries! Seen so many beautiful, old buildings! Played on so many playgrounds!

But we are extremely GRATEFUL to slow that pace and go HOME! That’s right! We thought returning to Kyrgyzstan would be a long shot, but through some pretty astounding events – we are able to go home!

And how appropriate that we end these “lenten wanderings” this particular holiday weekend!!

Like we’ve said before, we will probably still move countries for schooling later on. But at least we’ll get to move on our schedule. We’ll get to pack all our stuff calmly and bring it all with us! And we’ll get to know where we’ll be landing before we get on the plane! Things that almost sound like a luxury these days!

For the families who have opened their homes to us, we are grateful. For friendly folks who patiently listened to and worked with our broken Russian, we are grateful. For those who have been lifting us up on this journey, we are grateful. For people who have helped us with the financial burden, we are grateful. For the opportunity to see old friends and make new friends, we are grateful. For the Father’s overwhelming providence through it all, we are truly grateful.

Yes, “Providence” was overwhelmingly the theme that wove through these past 6 weeks. It has been humbling to watch our Father at work.

This year has created in our hearts a new depth as we respond “He is risen, indeed!”

If you’d like to support us financially, please check out our DONATION PAGE HERE

Lenten Wanderings – Pt 4: Holding Pattern

We are finishing up our Tour of Schools with a couple more countries – Latvia and Georgia!

3. Latvia

Actually, Latvia was a bust for schooling. Just before we arrived, I got an email back from the school letting me know that they no longer have the program I was asking about. *sad trombone sounds* So we were pure tourists for a couple of days. We did get to go to a yarn store that I was SUPER excited to check out! We toured the old town and took a mini trip to the beach one day. We enjoyed Latvia, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re checking out places in Europe – I don’t think it gets enough hype!

4. Georgia (the country)

We next touched down in the place we where we would be staying for a while – at least until we knew what we would be doing next. This place was different from all the others in one particular area – friends! Some previous teammates from a few years back now lived in Georgia! We stayed with them for a few days while we found a place to rent, which was great as our kids are about the same age! They introduced us to some delicious Georgian dishes and gave us a place of much needed rest!

We’ve taken our time in Georgia a lot slower. We’ve seen just 1 of the 2 potential schools here so far. I’ve gotten back to my remote job and Chris prepared and presented at an online conference. We’ve helped out a couple of times at a local kids English club and done some touring of the city.

This whole season of travel has been fun and also tiring. These trips have been very enlightening but we are also very ready to be “home” again. In whatever manner that will be…

If you’d like to support us financially, please check out our DONATION PAGE HERE

Lenten Wanderings – Pt 3: Making the Most of It

So, what does one do when they have been displaced from their home abruptly?

For us, we check out nursing schools.

First Day of CNA class 2018

If you didn’t know before, Courtney is looking into attending nursing school! This has been a direction that has been developing for her over the past few years– beginning with becoming a licensed CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and working in a plasma donation center where she loved interacting with patients as well as doing all the lab-work!

We are not yet sure how He is wanting her to use these skills, but if there is anything we know for certain it is that He wastes absolutely nothing!

This idea of visiting the schools had been in the soft planning stages for a few months, so we already had a few schools/cities/countries to check out! (How about that for prevenient providence!) We were thankful to have some specific locations, even if we didn’t have the plan of how to travel and how long to stay all nicely prepared.

We’ve been able to check out 2 locations so far:

1. Poland

We loved Poland! Especially strolling through old towns and having a look at some beautiful architecture. Each time a half-timber appeared there was obvious excitement from Chris (who fell in love with half-timbers when we went to Germany a few months back). And we loved all the public transportation options!

Our trip to visit the school, however, was pretty lack-luster. The school’s admissions department was far from actively recruiting and provided very few answers to our questions. It still seems to be a very good school, so it’s still in the running. (Especially with a location like that!)

2. Lithuania

Lithuania was less glitzy, but has some of the sweetest people! We’ve already got our code names for places around town, including: “the bakery on the corner”, “the cute street” and “the weird Chinese restaurant”.

The school was tremendously friendly and helpful! They seemed genuinely excited to meet us and invite us to join them! So they ranked high in the ‘good school’ department!

We still have a couple more schools to check out on this trip. We are still in limbo as we decide what to do after wrapping up these travels. Please continue to lift us and our leaders as we work together to find a direction forward. Perhaps one of these places will be where we make a new home!

If you’d like to support us financially, please check out our DONATION PAGE HERE

Lenten Wanderings – Pt 2: Poland

The first leg of this journey started off with a (ridiculously) long 20-hr layover in Istanbul before we landed in Poland.

A friend of a friend of a friend had come to our rescue- picking us up from the airport and then taking us to their home where we crashed in their extra room for several nights. Poland, a neighboring country to Ukraine has had a very large inpouring of the Ukrainian refugee population. And they have welcomed them! — far more than I’ve ever witnessed one country care for another. There were so many public displays of support — from billboards to signs in shop windows to free thrift shops to public transport carrying both Poland and Ukraine’s flag to local tv stations advertising their solidarity with Ukraine. (This trend has continued throughout our travels, but was still most evident in Poland).

It was a treasure to get to meet a few of these precious incoming people both at a week night book study and a Sunday gathering. Chris got to practice his Russian language skills in a real world application! We heard them tell stories of their life from the past week and listened – truly humbled- as the offered up songs of praise. We found ourselves encouraged by their bravery and resilience.

Throughout the week we would look at one another and marvel at how different our lives looked from a week ago. Even as we continue to work through figuring out what happens next, we know that He is with us, He will not leave us. Our hope is that others who have been displaced may also come to know this peace. Please lift up this club as they serve those who have come seeking safety! They have been working in earnest to provide housing for those coming in to their town.

Sunday Morning Gathering

Please lift up these needs:

  • Safe travels as we continue to wander through this part of the world.
  • Endurance and grace as travel-weariness begins to creep in.
  • Wisdom for us and our leaders as we take these next steps and choose a direction for moving forward.
  • Housing opportunities that are comfortable and financially manageable for us as we continue to travel.

If you’d like to support us financially, please check out our DONATION PAGE HERE

Lenten Wanderings – Pt 1: Tuesday

This past week has been a blur.

At 6:00am Tuesday morning, we received a nasty shock: a notification that our study visa had just been pulled, and that we needed to leave the country within 3 days. We honestly still don’t know what happened, or why. The reasons they gave us were unclear, and seemed to be unwarranted and unfair. But there was nothing we could do, we had to leave, not because of any unrest or worries of danger, but simply because our visa was gone. We spent the rest of Tuesday packing, and Wednesday headed to the airport.

Two suitcases, two large backpacks and three carry-ons is what we ended up bringing

Tuesday – the day of packing – was surreal. Like most of the world, we had been watching the conflict over in Eastern Europe. In fact, the weekend just before we had met many workers who were evacuating through our city. When I met them I thought, ‘Wow, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to evacuate. Good thing that is unlikely to happen here.’

But two days later, there we were – trying to figure out how we, too, would abruptly leave a country. Under far less tumultuous circumstances, thankfully, but still overwhelmingly fast paced.

Our 4-yr-old has always been very empathetic. It was not a surprise that she easily picked up on the fact that this was not a normal day. I wonder how much her little mind was processing… ‘All of a sudden mommy and daddy are talking about us taking a trip. They won’t tell me where we’re going (because we didn’t know yet). They won’t let me bring all my toys. And they are letting me have WAY more screen time than normal. Something must be up!’

What WAS surprising was the way she reacted to it– she went out of her way all day long to make sure we knew we were loved.

  • She offered us some of her new stickers to stick on our shirts – a regular sign of affection from her.
  • Throughout the day while I was distracted, she would repeatedly call my name, “Mom…mom…mom…mom” until I would finally ask her what she needed. She would always reply “I love you!”
  • In the evening, we dropped her off to play at a friends house for a few hours. While getting everything gathered and packed I would again and again catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and see the beaded necklace she had placed around my neck earlier and be reminded not only of my daughter’s love, but of the Father’s love, and His providence.

I am so thankful for her sweet, beautiful heart and the love she embodied in the midst of that chaos. I needed her presence that day.

By late late Tuesday night, we had our bags packed and some tickets to Europe and that was literally the extent of our plans. While we were en route, our community came alongside us, reached out to the people they knew, and by the time we arrived we were connected with an American couple who graciously opened up their home to us while we plan our next steps. What a whirlwind!

We want to let you all know we are safe and doing okay. We would ask that you lift up our journey as we decide how best to redeem this time, what to do next, and especially for our littles as they go through all of this.

But this adventure is far from over… (to be continued)

If you’d like to support us financially, please check out our DONATION PAGE HERE

Never Had I Ever…

The other day I was thinking about a game I used to play called “Never have I ever” – the more I live abroad, the more new things I’ve learned how to do or learned how to do in this place as opposed to the previous places we live. Previous cross-cultural experiences may lead me to believe I know how to do this or that. But those assumptions can be (and often are) wrong and can lead to very confusing situations! (but they often make for great stories!)

Since moving here, these are some new things I’ve learn:

Never had I ever… eaten Georgian food. But oh, is it delicious! Kebabs and cheesy bread! We have a Georgian restaurant just down the street from our house and man, is that dangerous. We could eat there everyday!

Hachupuri: Bread filled with cheese and egg and butter

Never had I ever… planned a child’s birthday party in a foreign country. A is turning 4 this weekend, but planning a party has been in the works for weeks– visiting places by foot, discussing prices, figuring out where to source cakes and balloons and candles. It’s gonna be fun to see how well we pull it off!

Local bakery items: chocolate croissants, crueller, cinnamon roll!

Never had I ever… known about the central Asian power grid! “The power grids of [several central Asian countries] are interconnected, and linked to Russia’s network via a Soviet-built power line that runs through Kazakhstan. It allows them to draw power from Russia’s grid when there are unexpected shortages.” (BBC) The reason we know about it is because a couple weeks ago IT WENT DOWN! Large cities in these three countries were all without power at the same time! Luckily the power came back after a couple hours. People have told us this is a once in a decade kind of event. Aren’t we lucky to have experienced it! lol!

More about this story here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-60123178

Never had I ever… learned a language with ear training only. My previous study of Mongolian means I have a *general* understanding of Russian’s Cyrillic alphabet. But this time around, I haven’t had the luxury of a formal class where I could write down vocab words. Instead, I squeeze in a 30 minute audio lesson everyday on my way back from dropping A off at school. And to my pleasant surprise, it’s working for me! (Pimsleur is the app if your interested!)

Note the earbuds! Learning Russian is more fun when you’re walking through the gently falling snow!

Never had I ever… let the air out of a radiator. This is one of those funny stories of a neighbor knocking on our door, urging us to do something but neither of us having enough of each other’s language to communicate. We are thankful for the boldness of our neighbor to push himself inside and show us by example what we needed to do. Apparently their heat depends on ours! We would have never known it needed to be done!

And on and on the list goes! It seems like we could add something to this list every other day! What an adventure this life is! We are grateful for it and for the general kindness of people around the world who help us learn the ropes!

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We also wanted to let you know that we will be doing a live update on Zoom! Everyone is welcome to join! There are two opportunities to catch us: Feb 18th and Feb 19th @ 7:00pm CST! We would love to see you! Drop a comment below or email us (troutmanrhythm@gmail.com) which day works best for you and we will send you the Zoom invitation and password! We’d love to tell you about the big dreams we’re dreaming!

Intense Language Class – Taxi Edition

If you didn’t know, right now our focus is language learning. Russian specifically.

Always in language learning there are situations that come along where you have to learn language, and you have to learn it now.

This is one of those times.

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It was a Thursday afternoon, I was outside of A’s school to pick her up and take her home. Because it was a drizzly day we ordered a taxi through an app on my phone to take us home.

We love this app – it allows us to put in where we want to be picked up, dropped off, and gives us the cost of the ride. We don’t have to try to explain which building is ours or negotiate a fair price. Which is great for my stress levels, but not so great for my language acquisition.

So I pile in the taxi with A and 8-month-old CC. And then the driver turns to me and asks me a question. I tell him I don’t understand (one of the few phrases I DO know how to say). He pointed at his phone an shows me that the destination is not pulling up on his side of the app. I try to put together a few words that I hope is my address, but no juice. Finally, I offer to let him use my phone for navigation.

Okay, he takes it. We’re good to go now right?

Nope.

I realize my side of the app has a locked north and he’s trying desperately to use his fingers to turn it so that he can know if he needs to turn right or left. It doesn’t turn.

This is really tripping him up. I’m going to have to tell him where to turn.

I don’t know how to tell him that.

I don’t know the words for left or right.

*PANIC*

Better learn ’em quick!

I take back my phone and pull up the words for left and right.

Okay, great.

But also, not great because Russian likes to add prefixes and suffixes onto their words. So while my phone has pulled up sleva and sprava, these don’t actually communicate successfully (and believe me, I tried!).

My actual phone translating on the fly!

Thankfully I recall the app speaking to previous drivers putting the “na-“ prefix on the front of the words.

It’s worth a shot.

So, in my poor Russian I start giving directions that basically equate to “Here. Toward Left” and “Here. Toward Right”.

And let me tell you, those words are now thoroughly seared into my brain!

But eventually we make it home!

Nothing gets your heart racing like being in a stranger’s car with two young kids trying to communicate without the words you need.

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Since this encounter I have buckled down on language learning. I’m thankful for the jumpstart to get me going, and thankful for His watchful eye and grace that got us home that day.

2021 – A Year in Review

As we look to a new year tomorrow, we are pausing to reflect on this past year.

OUR FAVORITE PARTS:

Baby CC! She joined Team Troutman in May 2021! She has grown and developed so much! We are so thankful for her smooth delivery and good health this year!

Return to overseas! This year we returned to life abroad in a new country, new culture and new language! We are so thankful to be abroad again – abroad really feels like being ‘at home’

Guests! Since arriving we’ve had a chance to host a couple dinners with a few friends as well as a packed home for Thanksgiving! Truly when our home is filled, so are our hearts!

Germany! This winter we were able to take a trip to Germany for a conference and it was so good! Plus it was a new country AND CONTINENT for all 4 of us!

National Park! Back when the weather was warmer, the 4 of us took a trip to the mountains to the south! It was so nice to see the beautiful nature around us! Chris has been able to take a few more trips around to see more of the country!

LOWS OF THE YEAR

  • COVID19 – Besides the health toll on society, it continues to cause issues for us and our peers who are needing to travel and work on Projects.
  • Stress- This year has been a stressful one as we’ve been preparing/moving/adjusting to our new home. Mostly there’s just lots to do and not enough us. We’ve had some amazing people who have helped us sort out a lot of the biggest challenges! But we are still trying to find our rhythm of life that is sustainable and allows love to thrive.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 2022

  • Chris’ PhD Journey – This coming year, Chris will be completing his PhD classwork, taking his candidacy exam, and beginning work on his dissertation!
  • Courtney PD Training/Development – this year Courtney will be going through partner development training and working to develop our support on all fronts (financial/pr*yr/encouragement)
  • A in School – Our three year old will continue to attend Russian preschool where she is doing amazing! We are so proud!
  • CC to grow – CC’s focus this year is to grow and develop and be a general source of joy to our team. She is already amazing at this!
  • Russian language study – Chris will continue his schooling, however he is looking to change schools in the spring. Courtney will be starting private lessons soon.
  • Travel – we hope to see more of this beautiful country in the year to come. In particular we have our sights set on a lakeside yurt stay!
  • Friendship – we are hoping for new friends and further development in the friendships that have already begun!
  • One of our biggest goals is to find that sustainable rhythm of life we mentioned earlier. We ask that you lift us up in this and ask for wisdom for us as we make these adjustments and seek that sweet spot!

A Breath of “Fresh” Air

Yay! Our air purifiers have arrived!

We knew when we moved here we would be moving (yet again) to another high-pollution-in-the-winter location. About a month ago we discovered an ad for these beauties. They were supposed to arrive about a week after we ordered them, but got stuck in customs for a for a while, the seller telling us again and again “just a few more days.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US!!!

I continued checking in with the seller to see if they had come because we were going to left the country for a conference. Each time, the same response, “Sorry, a few more days please.”

And of course, 2 days into our 6 day conference they arrived. 😆

After we returned, it was then a matter of how we were going to get them home which turned out to be a bit more complicated than it needed to be. Such is life abroad.

Cutest Air Purifier Ever!

But they’re here! And now we can breathe some clean air! Huzzah!

While these air purifiers were on sale when we ordered them, they still ran us $117 each for a total of $351! If anyone out there would like to help us offset the cost of these, you can leave a One Time Donation on our GVING PAGE (click here). EDIT – THESE AIR PURIFIERS HAS BEEN 100% SPONSORED!!

Hey ya Hey

A few months ago now our daughter A (3years) started preschool in another language for the first time! I was so proud of her… and still am so proud of her!!

That morning walk was definitely one for the memory banks.

You see, while I was SO, SO PROUD of her, I was also so, so nervous for her. So badly did I want her to do well, to find friends, to feel accepted and to enjoy going to school despite the language barrier. I knew how awesome this would be for her to have a chance to pick up the language. I pr*yed and pr*yed for her to have a good first day, first week, first month.

As her mom, I tried hard to give off vibes of excitement rather than worry. I don’t know how successful I was, but she seemed to be excited! (This I fully credit to the fantastic preschools she attended before with some awesome teachers and staff! Because of them, she knew school was cool!)

The big day came. We woke her up early. Fed her breakfast. Got her dressed. And headed off to school. Still I was strongly feeling worry and nerves. Still I tried to hold them quiet so that A would not be nervous as well.

On our 30 min walk to school that first day, A started to sing. It was a song she drudged up from her memory way back somewhere. And it was the PERFECT song for the Father to put in her heart! The lyrics go:

Do not fear, do not fear my child. Hey ya hey

Do not fear, do not fear my child. Hey ya hey

I am your loving Father. Hey ya hey ya hey

I am your loving Father. Hey ya hey ya hey

I hold you in My arms. Hey ya hey ya hey

We sang this song over and over again for a good 20 mins before I realized: ‘You know what, I don’t think He’s given this song to A. I think He’s given this song to ME!’

As you might know, we’re big fans of music. And it is always amazing how the Father can give you the perfect song at the right moment. He speaks in so many ways, or I guess this time He sang! In the beautiful voice of a 3 year old girl.